The word adaptogens is all over the health and wellness space, and it’s for the all right reasons! Adaptogens are medicinal plants (mainly herbs and mushrooms) that have the unique ability to help the body adapt to stress and regulate the nervous system. These special plants are powerhouses when it comes to helping us manage stress. They provide so many amazing benefits for our bodies such as regulating our stress response, building resilience to stress, reducing anxiety, boosting energy, calming nerves, and supporting our hormones.
Our bodies are created to deal with stress thanks to the help of our adrenal glands, also known as the stress glands! The adrenals are small glands that sit just above the kidneys and one of their main roles is releasing hormones during times of stress to help our bodies power through. The main hormone the adrenals release is cortisol.
Cortisol has gotten a bad rep for being the hormone responsible for weight gain, painful menstrual cycles, and chronic fatigue, but cortisol actually plays a crucial role in helping us manage stress and it’s very much needed! Balanced cortisol levels are high in the morning to help us get out of bed with tons of energy, and dip slowly throughout the day to help us prepare for a restful sleep. When cortisol is imbalanced due to chronic unmanaged stress, we might feel like we’re on a “cortisol rollercoaster”. This means that instead of our cortisol levels being high early in the day and gradually decreasing as they’re supposed to, our cortisol levels fluctuate from high and low throughout the day. This can lead to us feeling like we’re unable to get out of bed in the morning, crash at 2pm, and get that second wind of energy right before bed. Cortisol can become imbalanced due to long term unmanaged stress.
Our adrenals work on a system called the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, also known as the HPA-axis. The HPA-axis is our stress response system, when we experience a perceived stressor it sets a series of reactions throughout this system. First, the hypothalamus releases a hormone called cortisol releasing hormones (CRH) which triggers the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and finally triggers the adrenal glands to release cortisol into the bloodstream. When we experience chronic, unmanaged stress this system essentially starts functioning less efficiently, and this is where cortisol levels can become imbalanced.
Certain adaptogens help to balance cortisol levels, so when cortisol is low when it should be high they help to naturally increase it, and vice versa. Adaptogens meet your body where it’s at and create balance where needed! I love using adaptogens in my practice because cortisol levels can dramatically fluctuate during the day, especially if someone is experiencing imbalanced blood sugar and hormones.
Should You Use Adaptogens Everyday?
How often you use adaptogens will depend on your own unique stress levels and bio-individuality. As a general rule of thumb, consuming a serving or two of different adaptogens everyday is a great way to soak in all their amazing benefits! It’s recommended to take a week break from adaptogens every 4-6 weeks and rotate the adaptogens you’re using. You definitely don’t want to go from 0 to 10 adaptogens all at once, so try adding in one or two and stick with them for at least 4 weeks. Adaptogens effects are slow to notice, so stay patient. I promise there’s magic happening!
If you’re looking to add adaptogens into your routine with the intention to balance hormones, I would consult with a trusted practitioner to get to the root cause of what you’re experiencing. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have any immune related conditions, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or taking any prescription medications, consult with a trusted healthcare professional before adding any adaptogens into your routine.
Blume’s Adaptogenic Blends
The Cacao Turmeric blend is filled with anti-inflammatory ingredients, like turmeric and ginger, and it also has the adaptogen ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is one of the most popular adaptogens, and it’s a great adaptogen to add into your daily routine. Ashwagandha helps to reduce stress and anxiety, balance blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity, and reduce cortisol levels. It’s great to take at any time of the day and this blend is perfect for a caffeine-free, morning pick me up.
Reishi Hot Cacao is the perfect way to start introducing adaptogens to your evening ritual. Reishi is one of my absolute favourite adaptogens to use because of its relaxing effect on the whole body, especially the nervous system. Herbally, reishi is classified as a sedative adaptogen, which means it is used to strongly relax the nervous system. Reishi is amazing to have before bed to help promote a deep and restful sleep. In addition, it helps to reduce inflammation, modulate immunity, and gently support the liver. The cacao in this blend is rich in magnesium which helps to also relax the nervous system, as well as help with recovery. Magnesium has over 300+ functions in the body, so drink up!
Blume’s new Adaptogenic Milk Blend is such a cool product that I’ve recently introduced in my daily routine. It comes in a glass jar and has the consistency of nut butter, thanks to its base of organic almonds, organic cashews, organic coconut, and organic oats. All you do is put 1-2 tbsps in a blender with a cup of hot or cold water and blend for about 30 seconds. It instantly turns into a super creamy and rich milk, which makes the perfect base for lattes. I’m not a huge fan of boxed nut milks because they have tons of unnecessary additives, gums, and inflammatory oils, which can trigger digestive issues in some people. The Adaptogenic Milk Blend (AKA Bettermilk, how fitting!) contains 10,000mg of four types of medicinal mushrooms: organic reishi, organic cordyceps, organic chaga, and organic lion's mane.
Mushrooms are my favourite adaptogens to use because not only do they help us adapt better to stress, but they are amazing immune modulators. Immunomodulators help to keep the immune system in balance meaning they will boost the immune system or down regulate the immune system as needed. An overactive immune system has negative effects on our health just like an underactive immune system does.
Each of the four medicinal mushrooms in the Adaptogenic Milk Blend have unique benefits and when used in combination in this blend, create the perfect stress-busting tonic. Reishi is great for relaxation, calming anxiety and reducing stress. Cordyceps help to stabilize stress, boost energy, and increase endurance. Chaga is rich in antioxidants and has antiinflammatory properties. Lastly, Lion's Mane helps with mental focus, memory, and relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even though each mushroom has different benefits, they all work synergistically to give your body exactly what it needs. The Adaptogenic Milk Blend is perfect for any time of the day and is multi-use across various snacks and recipes. Include it with your morning coffee, tea or latte, use it as a spread on crackers for an afternoon snack, substitute out your dairy milk in your baked goods recipes, or blend it with your Reishi Hot Cacao before bed.
Most adaptogens are great to take throughout the day, but it’s important to note the few adaptogens that you want to time accordingly. Rhodiola is an adaptogen that's typically used to help improve stress and low energy, it has a slightly stimulating effect, so it's recommended to avoid it a few hours before bed. Maca is another stimulating adaptogen to avoid at bedtime as it may disrupt your beauty sleep. It all comes down to bio-individuality - certain adaptogens might have more of a stimulating effect on some people. If you find your body is especially reactive to stimulates, avoid these adaptogens after 2pm.
If you’re new to adding adaptogens to your routine, start with one serving in the morning or before bed (pick whichever you need the most support with!), and then in a few weeks start introducing them at the other time. If you’re not sure where to start, and to make sure adaptogens are right for you, always consult your healthcare professional!
Reishi Iced Cacao
The perfect recipe for a warm summer evening. The Adaptogenic Milk Blend, the extra reishi and the magnesium in the cacao are perfect for relaxing your nervous system to prepare for the best sleep of your life. You can try this hot as well! Just swap with hot water and omit the ice.
- 2 tbsp of Blume Adaptogenic Milk Blend
- 1 ½ cups filtered water
- 2 heaping tsp of Blume Reishi Hot Cacao
- Handful of ice
- 1 tsp of pure maple syrup (optional)
Fill your favourite glass with ice. Place the remaining ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until frothy. Pour over ice and enjoy (maybe with some coconut milk whipped cream on top)!
Tropical Matcha Smoothie
The most delicious way to get your greens in, and give you energy all day long. Matcha is rich in antioxidants and has just enough caffeine to give you an energy boost! Matcha is a great substitute for coffee in the morning because it’s rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that helps increase your feel good hormones: GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. This smoothie is rich in protein, fat, and fibre to keep your blood sugar stable all morning.
- 1 heaping tbsp of Blume Adaptogenic Milk Blend
- 1 ½ cups of filtered water
- ½ cups ice
- 1-2 tsp of Blume Matcha Coconut Blend
- 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder of choice
- 1 cup frozen mango
- half of a frozen banana
- 2 handfuls of spinach (or your leafy green of choice!)
- 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
In a high-speed blender, blend all of the ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust ratios as needed, you may need to add more liquid depending on the blender and desired consistency. Enjoy!